فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

Dinner with Sylvia Koning

That evening Sylvia Koning sat opposite Latto over the dinner table. She had changed into jeans and a shirt and had let her hair down around her shoulders. Latto thought she looked even prettier than before. Koning had chosen the restaurant, Giovanni’s, on the wharf. The windows looked out towards the ocean. There were one or two late surfers still out on their surfboards.

Latto and Koning had had an excellent meal and were enjoying the last of a rich white wine from the Santa Cruz mountains. They had talked a bit about Latto’s visit from Detective Martinez. But Latto said nothing about Martinez’ plans to find out more about Ray and Sylvia. He hoped Martinez would find out nothing and Sylvia would never need to know. Latto asked about the work that Koning did with Parkinson’s patients. By the time they moved on to coffee, they had started to find out more about each other’s lives.

Koning told Latto how she had become a doctor, and about life in the town where she grew up with her parents and three brothers - Stowe, Vermont, in the east of the United States. They all skied a lot in the winter and went shooting and fishing in the summer. Latto told her about his life as a doctor in the small Scottish town of Melrose.

The conversation stopped and they were both quiet for a moment. Then Koning said, ‘You’re quite unusual, Mark, aren’t you?’

‘Are all Americans so direct?’ asked Latto, smiling.

‘My grandmother always taught me to say what I mean,’ said Koning, laughing. ‘But, no, you are unusual,’ she went on. ‘Not many doctors of western medicine are interested in anything that Asian medicine has to offer. I mean, I’ve been studying and practising Asian medicine for nearly ten years and you’re the first doctor of western medicine to show any interest at all.’

‘Really?’ Latto searched for the right words to explain himself. ‘It’s probably in my blood though.’

Koning smiled and waited for him to continue.

‘You see my father, his brothers and his sister, they all helped people in some way,’ Latto continued. ‘My father and his younger brother were doctors; my other uncle taught T’ai Chi and my aunt taught yoga.’

Latto caught the waiter’s eye and asked for the bill.

‘Interesting family!’ said Koning.

‘Well, yes,’ agreed Latto, reaching for his wallet, ‘so there were always a lot of ideas flying around, and a lot of healthy arguing. But that’s probably why I’m so open to ideas from many different types of medicine. New ideas have always been a part of my life and my growing up.’

Latto paid and they left the restaurant to walk back along the wharf. It was beginning to get dark. Lights were on all along the seafront. However, the Boardwalk, the oldest seaside amusement park on the West Coast, was closed and quiet. During the winter months it was only open at weekends for children and their parents to enjoy the rides.

Latto and Koning walked slowly along. Then she looked at him. ‘Is there a Mrs Latto?’ she asked.

‘So direct again,’ said Latto, smiling and thinking to himself that the evening might be more interesting than he had expected. ‘No, there isn’t. There isn’t even a possible Mrs Latto at the moment.’ He turned and looked down at Koning and they stopped walking.

‘How about a Mr Koning?’ he asked.

‘No. No one,’ said Koning. She smiled at him, then she turned and started walking again. Latto walked beside her. After a few steps she put her arm through his.

Towards the end of the wharf, Latto looked up towards the Ocean View Motel. He could see all the seafront rooms, one or two with lights on inside. He looked along until he found his room, the light off. Suddenly he saw something move. It was the window to his room. He stopped walking. Koning realised something was wrong.

‘What’s the matter?’ she asked, looking up at him.

‘There. My room.’ They both looked up at the motel to see someone climbing out of Latto’s window.

Latto was already moving, running along the wharf, shouting, ‘Hey! Hey, you! Come back!’ even though he was so far away the person wouldn’t hear.

There was something under the robber’s arm, but Latto couldn’t see what it was.

Koning was running too, not far behind him. Latto reached the end of the wharf, ran round the entrance to Casey’s Bar and Grill, across the road, and in through the entrance to the Ocean View Motel. He was too late - the robber had disappeared. The window of his room was still open. Koning came running up.

‘It’s no use, he’s gone,’ said Latto.

Latto unlocked the door and turned on the light. His suitcase was open on the bed. His computer was missing.

Over the next hour the police and the hotel manager arrived, followed shortly by Detective Martinez. He had heard the news on the police radio as he was driving home from a late meeting. Martinez called in the police scientists. The police spoke to the hotel manager, then to Latto and Koning. Detective Martinez spoke to Koning and then Latto. Nobody had any idea who the robber was but he, or possibly she, had taken Latto’s computer and got away.

Koning went home, but before she did, she said goodbye to Latto, touching his arm and promising to call him in the morning. The hotel manager left. The police and the scientists left. Martinez had a few final words for Latto.

‘Do you usually make this much trouble when you travel places?’ he asked. ‘You’ve only been here a couple of days. You arrive at a house with a dead body in it. Then someone hits you over the head with a plant pot. And now someone goes off with your computer. Are you always this lucky?’

They were standing outside Latto’s room and in the halflight Latto wasn’t sure if Martinez was joking or not. He decided to take a chance.

‘A waiter once gave me too much change in a restaurant in Paris,’ he said.

Martinez laughed.

‘OK. Good one, doc. But seriously,’ his voice changed, ‘do you think someone might have wanted your computer rather than just any computer?’

‘I’ve been thinking about that,’ said Latto. ‘But if so, I can’t think why.’

‘Of course,’ continued Martinez, ‘if it’s a very new laptop, you could get about $500 for it on the street. That would buy a few drugs.’

Latto said nothing.

Martinez shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. ‘Let’s sleep on it,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a long day. I might be thinking better in the morning.’

Martinez left. Latto drank a beer and then went to bed.

As he lay waiting for sleep to come, he asked himself why someone might have wanted his computer. What could he have that might be of interest?

Then in the last few moments before he fell asleep, he realised what they wanted and how they had found out it was there. And he knew what he had to do in the morning.

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